Professor (Research), Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Member, Stanford Neurosciences Institute
One of the earliest and most consistent findings in behavioral neuroscience research is that learning changes the brain. Here we consider how learning as an aspect of coping in the context of stress exposure induces neuroadaptations that enhance emotion regulation and resilience. A systematic review of the literature identified 15 brain imaging studies in which humans with specific phobias or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) were randomized to stress exposure therapies that diminished subsequent indications of anxiety. Most of these studies focused on functional changes in the amygdala and anterior corticolimbic brain circuits that control cognitive, motivational, and emotional aspects of physiology and behavior. Corresponding structural brain changes and the timing, frequency, and duration of stress exposure required to modify brain functions remain to be elucidated in future research. These studies will advance our understanding of coping as a learning process and provide mechanistic insights for the development of new interventions that promote stress coping skills.
View details for DOI 10.3389/fnbeh.2013.00013
View details for PubMedID 23439935
Stroke causes brain dysfunction and neuron death, and the lack of effective therapies heightens the need for new therapeutic targets. Here we identify prokineticin 2 (PK2) as a mediator for cerebral ischemic injury. PK2 is a bioactive peptide initially discovered as a regulator of gastrointestinal motility. Multiple biological roles for PK2 have been discovered, including circadian rhythms, angiogenesis, and neurogenesis. However, the role of PK2 in neuropathology is unknown. Using primary cortical cultures, we found that PK2 mRNA is up-regulated by several pathological stressors, including hypoxia, reactive oxygen species, and excitotoxic glutamate. Glutamate-induced PK2 expression is dependent on NMDA receptor activation and extracellular calcium. Enriched neuronal culture studies revealed that neurons are the principal source of glutamate-induced PK2. Using in vivo models of stroke, we found that PK2 mRNA is induced in the ischemic cortex and striatum. Central delivery of PK2 worsens infarct volume, whereas PK2 receptor antagonist decreases infarct volume and central inflammation while improving functional outcome. Direct central inhibition of PK2 using RNAi also reduces infarct volume. These findings indicate that PK2 can be activated by pathological stimuli such as hypoxia-ischemia and excitotoxic glutamate and identify PK2 as a deleterious mediator for cerebral ischemia.
View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1113363109
View details for Web of Science ID 000302294700073
View details for PubMedID 22431614
Central nervous system (CNS) histamine is low in individuals with narcolepsy, a disease characterized by severe fragmentation of both sleep and wake. We have developed a primate model, the squirrel monkey, with which we can examine the role of the CNS in the wake-consolidation process, as these primates are day-active, have consolidated wake and sleep and have cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) that is readily accessible. Using this model and three distinct protocols, we report herein on the role of CNS histamine in the wake consolidation process. CSF histamine has a robust daily rhythm, with a mean of 24.9?±?3.29?pg?mL(-1) , amplitude of 31.7?±?6.46?pg?mL(-1) and a peak at 17:49?± 70.3?min (lights on 07:00-19:00?hours). These levels are not significantly affected by increases (up to 161?±?40.4% of baseline) or decreases (up to 17.2?±?2.50% of baseline) in locomotion. In direct contrast to the effects of sleep deprivation in non-wake-consolidating mammals, in whom CSF histamine increases, pharmacologically induced sleep (?-hydroxybutyrate) and wake (modafinil) have no direct effects on CSF histamine concentrations. These data indicate that the time-course of histamine in CSF in the wake-consolidated squirrel monkey is robust against variation in activity and sleep and wake-promoting pharmacological compounds, and may indicate that histamine physiology plays a role in wake-consolidation such as is present in the squirrel monkey and humans.
View details for DOI 10.1111/j.1365-2869.2011.00957.x
View details for Web of Science ID 000301931500010
View details for PubMedID 21910776
The 2010 Neurobiology of Stress Workshop brought together scientists from all over the world to share and discuss their results from studies examining the consequences of acute, repeated, and chronic stressor exposure on health and disease. Session IV entitled "The neurobiology of the stress-resistant brain" explored how we can intervene to promote stress resistance and stress resilience. Four scientists, who explore this topic from unique and convergent perspectives, presented their experimental results derived from studies in rat (Fleshner and Maier), non-human primates (Lyons), and human (Raskind). Summaries of each presentation, supporting publications, and overall take-home messages from the session are presented.
View details for DOI 10.3109/10253890.2011.596865
View details for Web of Science ID 000294008400005
View details for PubMedID 21790482
Oxytocin is widely believed to be present and structurally identical in all placental mammals. Here, we report that multiple species of New World monkeys possess a novel form of oxytocin, [P8] oxytocin. This mutation arises from a substitution of a leucine to a proline in amino acid position 8. Further analysis of this mutation in Saimiri sciureus (squirrel monkey) indicates that [P8] oxytocin is transcribed and translated properly. This mutation is specific to oxytocin, as the peptide sequence for arginine vasopressin, a structurally related nonapeptide, is unaltered. These findings dispel the notion that all placental mammals possess a 'universal' oxytocin sequence, and highlight the need for research on the functional significance of this novel nonapeptide in New World monkeys.
View details for DOI 10.1098/rsbl.2011.0107
View details for Web of Science ID 000292639100031
View details for PubMedID 21411453
The startle response, a simple defensive response to a sudden stimulus signaling proximal threat, has been well studied in rodents and humans, but has been rarely examined in monkeys. The first goal of the present studies was to develop a minimally immobilizing startle measurement paradigm and validate its usefulness by testing two core features of the startle response (habituation and graded responsivity) in squirrel monkey subjects. Two different types of startle stimuli were used: standard broad-band noise bursts, and species-specific alarm vocalizations ("yaps") which are elicited in response to threat in both wild and captive animals. The second goal of the present studies was to test whether yaps produce enhanced startle responsivity due to their increased biological salience compared to simple, non-biologically relevant noise bursts. The third goal of the present studies was to evaluate the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis response to startle stimuli, as little is known about the stress-activating role of startle stimuli in any species. These experiments determined that the whole-body startle response in relatively unrestrained squirrel monkeys habituates across repeated stimulus presentations and is proportional to stimulus intensity. In addition, differential habituation was observed across biologically salient vs. standard acoustic startle stimuli. Responses to "yaps" were larger initially but attenuated more rapidly over trials. Responses to "yaps" were also larger in the early subepochs of the response window but then achieved a lower level than responses to noise bursts in the later subepochs. Finally, adrenocorticotropic hormone and cortisol concentrations were significantly elevated above baseline after startle stimuli presentation, though monkeys did not exhibit differential HPA axis responses to the two types of startle stimuli. The development of monkey startle methodology may further enhance the utility of this paradigm in translational studies of human stress-related psychiatric disorders.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2010.08.009
View details for Web of Science ID 000288922300013
View details for PubMedID 20869176
In the mid-1950s, Levine and his colleagues reported that brief intermittent exposure to early life stress diminished indications of subsequent emotionality in rats. Here we review ongoing studies of a similar process in squirrel monkeys. Results from these animal models suggest that brief intermittent exposure to stress promotes the development of arousal regulation and resilience. Implications for programs designed to enhance resilience in human development are discussed.
View details for DOI 10.1002/dev.20500
View details for Web of Science ID 000283570400002
View details for PubMedID 20957724
Coping with intermittent social stress is an essential aspect of living in complex social environments. Coping tends to counteract the deleterious effects of stress and is thought to induce neuroadaptations in corticolimbic brain systems. Here we test this hypothesis in adult squirrel monkey males exposed to intermittent social separations and new pair formations. These manipulations simulate conditions that typically occur in male social associations because of competition for limited access to residency in mixed-sex groups. As evidence of coping, we previously confirmed that cortisol levels initially increase and then are restored to prestress levels within several days of each separation and new pair formation. Follow-up studies with exogenous cortisol further established that feedback regulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis is not impaired. Now we report that exposure to intermittent social separations and new pair formations increased hippocampal neurogenesis in squirrel monkey males. Hippocampal neurogenesis in rodents contributes to spatial learning performance, and in monkeys we found that spatial learning was enhanced in conditions that increased hippocampal neurogenesis. Corresponding changes were discerned in the expression of genes involved in survival and integration of adult-born granule cells into hippocampal neural circuits. These findings support recent indications that stress coping stimulates hippocampal neurogenesis in adult rodents. Psychotherapies designed to promote stress coping potentially have similar effects in humans with major depression.
View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.0914568107
View details for Web of Science ID 000281287600055
View details for PubMedID 20675584
Hypocretin-1 is a hypothalamic neuropeptide that is important in the regulation of wake and the lack of which results in the sleep disorder narcolepsy. Using a monkey that has consolidated wake akin to humans, we examined pharmacological manipulation of sleep and wake and its effects on hypocretin physiology. Monkeys were given the sleep-inducing ?-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) and the wake-inducing modafinil both in the morning and in the evening. Cerebrospinal fluid hypocretin-1 concentrations changed significantly in response to the drugs only when accompanied by a behavioral change (GHB-induced sleep in the morning or modafinil-induced wake in the evening). We also found that there was a large (180-fold) interindividual variation in GHB pharmacokinetics that explains variability in sleep induction in response to the drug. Our data indicate that the neurochemical concomitants of sleep and wake are capable of changing the physiological output of hypocretin neurons. Sleep independent of circadian timing is capable of decreasing cerebrospinal fluid hypocretin-1 concentrations. Furthermore, hypocretin neurons do not seem to respond to an 'effort' to remain awake, but rather keep track of time spent awake as a wake-promoting counterbalance to extended wakefulness.
View details for DOI 10.1097/FBP.0b013e328331b9db
View details for Web of Science ID 000270483300010
View details for PubMedID 19752724
Coping with mild early life stress tends to make subsequent coping efforts more effective and therefore more likely to be used as a means of arousal regulation and resilience. Here we show that this developmental learning-like process of stress inoculation increases ventromedial prefrontal cortical volumes in peripubertal monkeys. Larger volumes do not reflect increased cortical thickness but instead represent surface area expansion of ventromedial prefrontal cortex. Expansion of ventromedial prefrontal cortex coincides with increased white matter myelination inferred from diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging. These findings suggest that the process of coping with early life stress increases prefrontal myelination and expands a region of cortex that broadly controls arousal regulation and resilience.
View details for DOI 10.1159/000216540
View details for Web of Science ID 000267787200006
View details for PubMedID 19546566
Stressful experiences that are challenging but not overwhelming appear to promote the development of arousal regulation and resilience. Variously described in studies of humans as inoculating, steeling, or toughening, the notion that coping with early life stress enhances arousal regulation and resilience is further supported by longitudinal studies of squirrel monkey development. Exposure to early life stress inoculation diminishes subsequent indications of anxiety, increases exploration of novel situations, and decreases stress-levels of cortisol compared to age-matched monkeys raised in undisturbed social groups. Stress inoculation also enhances prefrontal-dependent cognitive control of behavior and increases ventromedial prefrontal cortical volumes. Larger volumes do not reflect increased cortical thickness but instead represent surface area expansion of ventromedial prefrontal cortex. Expansion of ventromedial prefrontal cortex coincides with increased white matter myelination inferred from diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging. These findings suggest that early life stress inoculation triggers developmental cascades across multiple domains of adaptive functioning. Prefrontal myelination and cortical expansion induced by the process of coping with stress support broad and enduring trait-like transformations in cognitive, motivational, and emotional aspects of behavior. Implications for programs designed to promote resilience in humans are discussed.
View details for DOI 10.3389/neuro.08.032.2009
View details for Web of Science ID 000208031500032
View details for PubMedID 19826626
Neurobiological studies of stress often focus on the hippocampus where cortisol binds with different affinities to two types of corticosteroid receptors, i.e., mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) and glucocorticoid receptor (GR). The hippocampus is involved in learning and memory, and regulates the neuroendocrine stress response, but other brain regions also play a role, especially prefrontal cortex. Here, we examine MR and GR expression in adult squirrel monkey prefrontal cortex and hippocampus after exposure to social stress in infancy or adulthood. In situ hybridization histochemistry with (35)S-labeled squirrel monkey riboprobes and quantitative film autoradiography were used to measure the relative distributions of MR and GR mRNA. Distinct cortical cell layer-specific patterns of MR expression differed from GR expression in three prefrontal regions. The relative distributions of MR and GR also differed in hippocampal Cornu Ammonis (CA) regions. In monkeys exposed to adult social stress compared to the no-stress control, GR expression was diminished in hippocampal CA1 (P=0.021), whereas MR was diminished in cell layer III of ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (P=0.049). In contrast, exposure to early life stress diminished GR but not MR expression in cell layers I and II of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (P's<0.048). Similar reductions likewise occurred in ventrolateral prefrontal cortex, but the effects of early life stress on GR expression in this region were marginally not significant (P=0.053). These results provide new information on regional differences and the long-term effects of stress on MR and GR distributions in corticolimbic regions that control cognitive and neuroendocrine functions.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2007.12.003
View details for Web of Science ID 000254568400011
View details for PubMedID 18222612
Stressful experiences that consistently increase cortisol levels appear to alter the expression of hundreds of genes in prefrontal limbic brain regions. Here, we investigate this hypothesis in monkeys exposed to intermittent social stress-induced episodes of hypercortisolism or a no-stress control condition. Prefrontal profiles of gene expression compiled from Affymetrix microarray data for monkeys randomized to the no-stress condition were consistent with microarray results published for healthy humans. In monkeys exposed to intermittent social stress, more genes than expected by chance appeared to be differentially expressed in ventromedial prefrontal cortex compared to monkeys not exposed to adult social stress. Most of these stress responsive candidate genes were modestly downregulated, including ubiquitin conjugation enzymes and ligases involved in synaptic plasticity, cell cycle progression and nuclear receptor signaling. Social stress did not affect gene expression beyond that expected by chance in dorsolateral prefrontal cortex or prefrontal white matter. Thirty four of 48 comparisons chosen for verification by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) were consistent with the microarray-predicted result. Furthermore, qPCR and microarray data were highly correlated. These results provide new insights on the regulation of gene expression in a prefrontal corticolimbic region involved in the pathophysiology of stress and major depression. Comparisons between these data from monkeys and those for ventromedial prefrontal cortex in humans with a history of major depression may help to distinguish the molecular signature of stress from other confounding factors in human postmortem brain research.
View details for DOI 10.1038/sj.mp.4002095
View details for Web of Science ID 000251265200007
View details for PubMedID 17893703
Hippocampal volumes previously determined in monkeys by magnetic resonance imaging are used to test the hypothesis that small hippocampi predict increased stress levels of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH).Plasma ACTH levels were measured after restraint stress in 19 male monkeys pretreated with saline or hydrocortisone. Monkeys were then randomized to an undisturbed control condition or intermittent social separations followed by new pair formations. After 17 months of exposure to the intermittent social manipulations, restraint stress tests were repeated to determine test/retest correlations.Individual differences in postrestraint stress ACTH levels over the 17-month test/retest interval were remarkably consistent for the saline (r(s) = .82, p = .0004) and hydrocortisone (r(s) = .78, p = .001) pretreatments. Social manipulations did not affect postrestraint stress ACTH levels, but monkeys with smaller hippocampal volumes responded to restraint after saline pretreatment with greater increases in ACTH levels with total brain volume variation controlled as a statistical covariate (beta = -.58, p = .031). Monkeys with smaller hippocampal volumes also responded with diminished sensitivity to glucocorticoid feedback determined by greater postrestraint ACTH levels after pretreatment with hydrocortisone (beta = -.68, p = .010).These findings support clinical reports that small hippocampi may be a risk factor for impaired regulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis in humans with stress-related psychiatric disorders.
View details for DOI 10.1016/i.biopsych.2007.03.012
View details for Web of Science ID 000250905800015
View details for PubMedID 17573043
The neuropeptides hypocretins (orexins), the loss of which results in the sleep disorder narcolepsy, are hypothesized to be involved in the consolidation of wakefulness and have been proposed to be part of the circadian-driven alertness signal. To elucidate the role of hypocretins in the consolidation of human wakefulness we examined the effect of wake extension on hypocretin-1 in squirrel monkeys, primates that consolidate wakefulness during the daytime as do humans. Wake was extended up to 7 h with hypocretin-1, cortisol, ghrelin, leptin, locomotion, and feeding, all being assayed. Hypocretin-1 (P < 0.01), cortisol (P < 0.001), and locomotion (P < 0.005) all increased with sleep deprivation, while ghrelin (P = 0.79) and leptin (P = 1.00) did not change with sleep deprivation. Using cross-correlation and multivariate modeling of these potential covariates along with homeostatic pressure (a measure of time awake/asleep), we found that time of day and homeostatic pressure together explained 44% of the variance in the hypocretin-1 data (P < 0.001), while cortisol did not significantly contribute to the overall hypocretin-1 variance. Locomotion during the daytime, but not during the nighttime, helped explain < 5% of the hypocretin-1 variance (P < 0.05). These data are consistent with earlier evidence indicating that in the squirrel monkey hypocretin-1 is mainly regulated by circadian inputs and homeostatic sleep pressure. Concomitants of wakefulness that affect hypocretin-1 in polyphasic species, such as locomotion, food intake, and food deprivation, likely have a more minor role in monophasic species, such as humans.
View details for DOI 10.1152/ajpregu.00460.2007
View details for Web of Science ID 000250088000033
View details for PubMedID 17686881
Recent evidence suggests that early exposure to mild stress promotes the development of novelty seeking behavior. Here we test this hypothesis in squirrel monkeys and investigate whether novelty seeking behavior is associated with differences in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) levels of the serotonin metabolite 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5HIAA), the dopamine metabolite homovanillic acid (HVA), the norepinephrine metabolite 3-methoxy-4-hydroxyphenylethylene glycol (MHPG), and the neuropeptide corticotrophin-releasing factor (CRF). Monkeys were randomized early in life to either mild intermittent stress (IS) or no stress (NS) conditions, and subsequently presented with opportunities to interact with a familiar or novel object in a test box that was connected to each monkey's home cage. To further minimize the potentially stressful nature of the test situation, monkeys were acclimated to the test procedures prior to study initiation. Post-test plasma levels of cortisol in IS and NS monkeys did not differ significantly from baseline levels measured in undisturbed conditions. During testing, more IS than NS monkeys voluntarily left the home cage, and IS monkeys spent more time in the test box compared to NS monkeys. More IS than NS monkeys engaged in object exploration in the test box, and IS monkeys preferred to interact with the novel vs. familiar object. Novelty seeking was not associated with differences in 5HIAA, HVA, MHPG, or CRF, but correlated with differences in object exploration observed in a different test situation at an earlier age. These trait-like differences in novelty seeking appear to reflect mild early stress-induced adaptations that enhance curiosity and resilience.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2007.05.008
View details for Web of Science ID 000249510200003
View details for PubMedID 17604913
The negative consequences of stress are well-recognized in mental health research. Exposure to early life stressors, for example, increases the risk for the development of mood, anger, anxiety, and substance abuse disorders. Interestingly, however, early life stressors have also been linked to the subsequent development of resilience. Variously described as inoculating, immunizing, steeling, toughening, or thriving, the hypothesis that early life stressors provide a challenge that, when overcome, induces adaptations that enhance emotional processing, cognitive control, curiosity, and neuroendocrine regulation is examined in this review of squirrel monkey research.
View details for DOI 10.1002/jts.20265
View details for Web of Science ID 000249183400006
View details for PubMedID 17721972
Although social stress inhibits neurogenesis in the adult hippocampus, the extent to which individual differences in stress-related behavior affect hippocampal cell proliferation is not well understood. Based on results from resident-intruder stress tests administered to adult male mice, here we report that individual differences in hippocampal cell proliferation are related to the frequency of defensive behavior, and not the amount of aggression received or the frequency of fleeing. In contrast, access to voluntary wheel-running exercise did not affect hippocampal cell proliferation in either stressed or non-stressed mice. Social stress-induced inhibition of cell proliferation was restricted to the hippocampus, as neither stress nor access to wheel-running exercise altered cell proliferation in the amygdala. These findings indicate that individual differences in stress-related behavior influence cell proliferation in the mouse hippocampus, and may have important implications for understanding structural and functional hippocampal impairments in human psychiatric patients.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.physbeh.2006.05.047
View details for Web of Science ID 000240414300001
View details for PubMedID 16837015
Gene expression profiling of brain tissue samples applied to DNA microarrays promises to provide novel insights into the neurobiological bases of primate behavior. The strength of the microarray technology lies in the ability to simultaneously measure the expression levels of all genes in defined brain regions that are known to mediate behavior. The application of microarrays presents, however, various limitations and challenges for primate neuroscience research. Low RNA abundance, modest changes in gene expression, heterogeneous distribution of mRNA among cell subpopulations, and individual differences in behavior all mandate great care in the collection, processing, and analysis of brain tissue. A unique problem for nonhuman primate research is the limited availability of species-specific arrays. Arrays designed for humans are often used, but expression level differences are inevitably confounded by gene sequence differences in all cross-species array applications. Tools to deal with this problem are currently being developed. Here we review these methodological issues, and provide examples from our experiences using human arrays to examine brain tissue samples from squirrel monkeys. Until species-specific microarrays become more widely available, great caution must be taken in the assessment and interpretation of microarray data from nonhuman primates. Nevertheless, the application of human microarrays in nonhuman primate neuroscience research recovers useful information from thousands of genes, and represents an important new strategy for understanding the molecular complexity of behavior and mental health.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.ymeth.2005.09.017
View details for Web of Science ID 000236450700009
View details for PubMedID 16469505
The stress inoculation hypothesis presupposes that brief intermittent stress exposure early in life induces the development of subsequent stress resistance in human and nonhuman primates. Rodent studies, however, suggest a role for maternal care rather than stress exposure per se (i.e., the maternal mediation hypothesis). To investigate these two hypotheses, we examined maternal care and the development of stress resistance after exposure to brief intermittent infant stress (IS), mother-infant stress (MIS), or no stress (NS) protocols administered to 30 monkeys between postnatal weeks 17 and 27. Unlike rodents, the IS condition did not permanently increase primate maternal care, nor did measures of total maternal care predict subsequent offspring hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal-axis responsivity. Although MIS infants received less maternal care than IS and NS infants, both IS and MIS monkeys developed subsequent stress resistance. These findings indicate that rearing differences in the development of stress resistance are more closely related to differences in prior stress exposure than to differences in maternal care. A second experiment confirmed this conclusion in a different cohort of 25 monkeys exposed as infants to high foraging-demand (HFD) or low foraging-demand (LFD) conditions. HFD infants exhibited intermittent elevations in cortisol levels and received less maternal care than LFD infants. In keeping with a key prediction of the stress inoculation hypothesis, HFD males responded to stress in adulthood with diminished hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal-axis activation compared with LFD males. Results from both experiments demonstrate that stress inoculation, rather than high levels of maternal care, promotes the development of primate stress resistance.
View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.0506571103
View details for Web of Science ID 000235554900093
View details for PubMedID 16473950
Social relationships protect against the development of stress-related psychiatric disorders, yet little is known about the neurobiology that regulates this phenomenon. Recent evidence suggests that oxytocin (OT), a neuropeptide involved in social bond formation, may play a role. This experiment investigated the effects of chronic intranasal OT administration on acute stress-induced hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activation in adult female squirrel monkeys. Subjects were randomized to one of two experimental conditions. Monkeys were intranasally administered either 50 microg oxytocin (N = 6 monkeys) or 0 microg oxytocin (N = 6 monkeys)/300 microl saline once a day for eight consecutive days. Immediately after drug administration on the eighth day, all monkeys were exposed to acute social isolation. Blood samples for determinations of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and cortisol concentrations were collected after 30 and 90 min of stress exposure. Consistent with an anti-stress effect, OT-treated monkeys exhibited lower ACTH concentrations compared to saline-treated monkeys after 90 min of social isolation (F(1,7) = 6.891; P = 0.034). No drug-related differences in cortisol levels were observed, indicating that OT does not directly attenuate the adrenal stress response. Intranasal peptide administration has been shown to penetrate the central nervous system, and research must determine whether intranasally delivered OT exerts its effect(s) at a pituitary and/or brain level. This primate model offers critical opportunities to improve our understanding of the anti-stress effects of OT and may lead to novel pharmacological treatments for stress-related psychiatric disorders.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2005.04.002
View details for Web of Science ID 000231003800012
View details for PubMedID 15946803
Severely stressful early experiences have been implicated in the pathophysiology of psychiatric disorders. In contrast, exposure to mild early life stress (i.e., stress inoculation) strengthens emotional and neuroendocrine resistance to subsequent stressors. Herein we extend this research to examine the effects of mild early life stress on cognition.Squirrel monkeys were randomized to a mild intermittent stress (IS; n = 11) or nonstress (NS; n = 9) condition from 17 to 27 weeks postpartum. At 1.5 years of age, monkeys were assessed for response inhibition on a test previously shown to reflect prefrontal-dependent cognitive function.IS monkeys demonstrated fewer response inhibition errors compared with NS monkeys. There were no rearing-related differences in aspects of performance that did not require inhibitory control. Compared with NS monkeys, IS monkeys had lower basal plasma pituitary-adrenal stress hormone levels. No rearing-related differences on neuroendocrine measures obtained 15 minutes after testing were found.Results from this experiment provide the first evidence that exposure to mildly stressful early experiences improves prefrontal-dependent response inhibition in primates. Combined with our previous data, findings from this animal model suggest that exposure to mild early life stress may enhance the development of brain systems that regulate emotional, neuroendocrine, and cognitive control.
View details for Web of Science ID 000228280700004
View details for PubMedID 15820705
To identify the determinants of impaired glucocorticoid receptor (GR) signaling in a model of glucocorticoid resistance, cloned GR from Guyanese squirrel monkeys (gsmGR) was tagged with enhanced green fluorescent protein, and nuclear translocation was examined in transfected COS1 cells. In keeping with evidence that gsmGR transactivational competence is impaired, we found that nuclear translocation is likewise diminished in gsmGR relative to human GR (hGR). Experiments with GR chimeras revealed that replacement of the gsmGR ligand binding domain (LBD) with that from hGR increased translocation. Truncated gsmGR constructs lacking the LDB after amino acid 552 also showed increased translocation even in the absence of cortisol. Three back-mutations of gsmGR to hGR (Thr551Ser, Ala616Ser, and Ser618Ala) in the LBD confirmed that these amino acids play a role in diminished translocation.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jsbmb.2004.11.010
View details for Web of Science ID 000229445800005
View details for PubMedID 15857751
Retrospective studies in humans have identified characteristics that promote stress resistance, including childhood exposure to moderately stressful events (ie, stress inoculation).Because of limited opportunities for prospective studies in children, we tested whether exposure to moderate stress early in life produces later stress resistance in a primate model.Twenty squirrel monkeys were randomized to intermittent stress inoculation (IS; n = 11) or a nonstress control condition (NS; n = 9) from postnatal weeks 17 to 27. At postnatal week 35, each mother-offspring dyad underwent testing in a moderately stressful novel environment for inferential measures of offspring anxiety (ie, maternal clinging, mother-offspring interactions, object exploration, and food consumption) and stress hormone concentrations (corticotropin [ACTH] and cortisol). At postnatal week 50, after acclimation to an initially stressful wire-mesh box attached to the home cage, independent young monkeys underwent testing for inferential measures of anxiety (ie, voluntary exploration and play) in the box.In the novel environment test, IS compared with NS offspring demonstrated diminished anxiety as measured by decreased maternal clinging (P =.02), enhanced exploratory behavior (P =.005), and increased food consumption (P =.02). Mothers of IS offspring accommodated offspring-initiated exploration (P =.009) and served as a secure base more often compared with NS mothers (P =.047). Compared with NS offspring, IS offspring had lower basal plasma ACTH (P =.001) and cortisol (P =.001) concentrations and lower corticotropin (P =.04) and cortisol (P =.03) concentrations after stress. In the subsequent home-cage wire-box test, IS offspring demonstrated enhanced exploratory (P<.001) and play (P =.008) behaviors compared with NS offspring.These results provide the first prospective evidence that moderately stressful early experiences strengthen socioemotional and neuroendocrine resistance to subsequent stressors. This preclinical model offers essential opportunities to improve our understanding and enhance prevention of human stress-related psychiatric disorders by elucidating the etiology and neurobiology of stress resistance.
View details for Web of Science ID 000223726200009
View details for PubMedID 15351772
The hypocretin system is involved in the integration of hypothalamic functions with sleep and wake. Hypocretin-1 release peaks at the end of the active period in both diurnal and nocturnal species. A role for hypocretin-1 in the generation of locomotor activity has been suggested by electrophysiological and neurochemical studies in rodents, dogs and cats. These species, however, do not consolidate wake into a single, daily bout and manipulations of locomotion elicit changes in wakefulness, making it difficult to parse the relative contribution of these two factors. We have examined the relationship between locomotion and hypocretin-1 in a wake-consolidating animal, the squirrel monkey (Saimiri sciureus). Strikingly, we found that restricting locomotion to 17% of usual activity had no significant effect on the normal diurnal rise in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) hypocretin-1, despite an associated increase in CSF cortisol. Increasing locomotion to greater than baseline activity did not significantly increase CSF hypocretin-1 concentrations, but did appear to have a positive modulatory effect on CSF hypocretin-1. In this wake-consolidating animal, locomotion is not necessary for CSF hypocretin-1 to increase throughout the daytime, but high levels of locomotion are likely to provide a small positive feedback onto the hypocretin system.
View details for DOI 10.1113/jphysiol.2004.061606
View details for Web of Science ID 000222403700029
View details for PubMedID 15107479
Neurobiological studies of stress and cognitive aging seldom consider white matter despite indications that complex brain processes depend on networks and white matter interconnections. Frontal and temporal lobe white matter volumes increase throughout midlife adulthood in humans, and this aspect of aging is thought to enhance distributed brain functions. Here, we examine spatial learning and memory, neuroendocrine responses to psychological stress, and regional volumes of gray and white matter determined by magnetic resonance imaging in 31 female squirrel monkeys between the ages of 5 and 17 years. This period of lifespan development corresponds to the years 18-60 in humans. Older adults responded to stress with greater increases in plasma levels of adrenocorticotropic hormone and modest reductions in glucocorticoid feedback sensitivity relative to young adults. Learning and memory did not differ with age during the initial cognitive test sessions, but older adults more often failed to inhibit the initial learned response after subsequent spatial reversals. Impaired cognitive response inhibition correlated with the expansion of white matter volume statistically controlling for age, stress hormones, gray matter, and CSF volumes. These results indicate that instead of enhancing cognitive control during midlife adulthood, white matter volume expansion contributes to aspects of cognitive decline. Cellular and molecular research combined with brain imaging is needed to determine the basis of white matter growth in adults, elucidate its functions during lifespan development, and provide potential new targets for therapies aimed at maintaining in humans cognitive vitality with aging.
View details for DOI 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0324-04.2004
View details for Web of Science ID 000220715400022
View details for PubMedID 15071114
Early emotional experiences affect developing brain systems that subsequently mediate adult learning and memory in rodents. Here we test for similar effects in squirrel monkeys (Saimiri sciureus) four years after disruptions in early maternal availability. These conditions were previously shown to generate differences in emotional behavior, hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal stress physiology, and right ventral medial prefrontal volumes determined in adulthood by magnetic resonance imaging. This report identifies in the same monkeys variability in reward-related memory on tests with a spatial reversal. Adult monkeys that more often selected locations repeatedly rewarded before each reversal had larger right ventral medial prefrontal volumes, but not hippocampal nor dorsolateral prefrontal volumes on the left or right brain side. Differences in performance were also discerned after each spatial reversal. These findings indicate that maternal availability alters developing ventral medial prefrontal brain regions involved in reward-related memory.
View details for DOI 10.1016/S1074-7427(03)00044-3
View details for Web of Science ID 000185048500001
View details for PubMedID 12932424
As a step toward bridging the gap between human and animal studies of olfactory brain systems, we report results from an fMRI study of olfaction in squirrel monkeys. High-resolution fMRI images at 3 T with 1.25 x 1.25 x 1.2 mm(3) voxels were obtained covering the whole brain using an 8-cm-diameter birdcage coil and a gradient-echo spiral pulse sequence. Data were acquired from six sedated adult males using a standard block design. All fMRI data were spatially normalized to a common template and analyzed at the individual and group levels with statistical parametric and nonparametric methods. Robust odorant-induced activations were detected in several brain regions previously implicated in conscious human olfactory processing, including the orbitofrontal cortex, cerebellum, and piriform cortex. Consistent with human data, no stimulus intensity effects were observed in any of these regions. Average signal changes in these regions exceeded 0.6%, more than three times the expected signal change based on human fMRI studies of olfaction adjusting for differences in voxel size. These results demonstrate the feasibility of studying olfaction in sedated monkeys with imaging techniques commonly used at 3 T in humans and help promote direct comparisons between humans and nonhuman primates. Our findings, for example, provide novel support for the hypothesis that the cerebellum is involved in sensory acquisition. More broadly, this study suggests that olfactory processing in sedated monkeys and nonsedated humans shares similar neural substrates both within and beyond the primary olfactory system.
View details for DOI 10.1016/S1053-8119(03)00288-X
View details for Web of Science ID 000185746400022
View details for PubMedID 14527586
In humans, consolidation of wakefulness into a single episode can be modeled as the interaction of two processes, a homeostatic "hour-glass" wake signal that declines throughout the daytime and a circadian wake-promoting signal that peaks in the evening. Hypocretins, novel hypothalamic neuropeptides that are dysfunctional in the sleep disorder narcolepsy, may be involved in the expression of the circadian wake-promoting signal. Hypocretins (orexins) are wake-promoting peptides, but their role in normal human sleep physiology has yet to be determined. We examined the daily temporal pattern of hypocretin-1 in the cisternal CSF of the squirrel monkey, a New World primate with a pattern of wake similar to that of humans. Hypocretin-1 levels peaked in the latter third of the day, consistent with the premise that hypocretin-1 is involved in wake regulation. When we lengthened the wake period by 4 hr, hypocretin-1 concentrations remained elevated, indicating a circadian-independent component to hypocretin-1 regulation. Changes in the stress hormone cortisol were not correlated with hypocretin-1 changes. Although hypocretin-1 is at least partially activated by a reactive homeostatic mechanism, it is likely also regulated by the circadian pacemaker. In the squirrel monkey, hypocretin-1 works in opposition to the accumulating sleep drive during the day to maintain a constant level of wake.
View details for Web of Science ID 000182475200052
View details for PubMedID 12716965
A consistent finding in biological psychiatry is that hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis physiology is altered in humans with major depression. These findings include hypersecretion of cortisol at baseline and on the dexamethasone suppression test. In this review, we present a process-oriented model for HPA axis regulation in major depression. Specifically, we suggest that acute depressions are characterized by hypersecretion of hypothalamic corticotropin-releasing factor, pituitary adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), and adrenal cortisol. In chronic depressions, however, enhanced adrenal responsiveness to ACTH and glucocorticoid negative feedback work in complementary fashion so that cortisol levels remain elevated while ACTH levels are reduced. In considering the evidence for hypercortisolism in humans, studies of nonhuman primates are presented and their utility and limitations as comparative models of human depression are discussed.
View details for DOI 10.1016/S0018-506X(02)00016-8
View details for Web of Science ID 000182658400009
View details for PubMedID 12614635
Theories of human development suggest that experiences embedded in social relationships alter prefrontal brain systems that mediate emotional self-regulation. This study tests for experience-dependent effects on prefrontal gray and white matter volumes determined in 39 young adult monkeys (Saimiri sciureus) 4 years after conditions that modified early maternal availability. These conditions were previously shown to alter subsequent measures of emotional behavior, social propensities, and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis stress physiology. Here we identify significant differences in right but not left adult prefrontal volumes, with experience-dependent asymmetric variation most clearly expressed in ventral medial cortex measured in vivo by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Follow-up studies now need to determine whether maternal availability directly affects or interacts with subsequent experiences to alter prefrontal substrates of emotional processing and sensitivity to stress.
View details for Web of Science ID 000178776300005
View details for PubMedID 12385789
The search for genetic and environmental risk factors that alter brain growth and emotional development is limited in humans with affective disorders that are triggered or aggravated by stress. Animal models are particularly well suited for the investigation of genetic variation in carefully controlled environments. Here, we illustrate this preclinical approach with a series of studies on early life stress and inherited variation in squirrel monkey hippocampal and prefrontal volumes determined in vivo with magnetic resonance imaging.
View details for PubMedID 12397846
Research on both non-human mammals and humans has raised interest in the role that oxytocin may play in human attachment and attachment-related emotions. This study examined changes in plasma oxytocin, prolactin, and ACTH concentrations in response to laboratory-induced positive and negative emotions related to close, interpersonal relationships. Participants were 32 female volunteers recruited from university communities. During positive emotion induction, oxytocin decreased over time (F(1,3) = 4.41, p < 0.007), prolactin increased (F(1,3) = 4.80, p < 0.004) and ACTH remained constant. During negative emotion induction, prolactin levels increased (F(1,3) = 2.81, p < 0.05), ACTH decreased only after the induction terminated (F(1,3) = 4.02, p < 0.01) and oxytocin remained constant. While oxytocin decreased during positive emotion, this finding contrasted previous research that showed decreases in response to negative emotion. In conclusion, plasma oxytocin levels were not reliably altered by positive or negative emotion induction. While prolactin and ACTH were expected to decrease over time due to diurnal variation, they instead either increased or remained level during emotion induction, or decreased only after the induction. Overall, the degree of change in circulating hormones in response to happy and sad emotions was very small and possibly not functionally significant.
View details for Web of Science ID 000208090500005
View details for PubMedID 12475731
Opportunities for research on the causes and consequences of stress-related hippocampal atrophy are limited in human psychiatric disorders. Therefore, this longitudinal study investigated early life stress and inherited variation in monkey hippocampal volumes.Paternal half-siblings raised apart from one another by different mothers in the absence of fathers were randomized to 1 of 3 postnatal conditions that disrupted diverse aspects of early maternal care (n = 13 monkeys per condition). These conditions were previously shown to produce differences in social behavior, emotional reactivity, and neuroendocrine stress physiology. Hippocampal volumes were subsequently determined in adulthood by high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging.Adult hippocampal volumes did not differ with respect to the stressful postnatal conditions. Based on paternal half-sibling effects, the estimated proportion of genetic variance, ie, heritability, was 54% for hippocampal size. Paternal half-siblings with small adult hippocampal volumes responded to the removal of all mothers after weaning with initially larger relative increases in cortisol levels. Plasma cortisol levels 3 and 7 days later, and measures of cortisol-negative feedback in adulthood were not, however, correlated with hippocampal size.In humans with mood and anxiety disorders, small hippocampal volumes have been taken as evidence that excessive stress levels of cortisol induce hippocampal volume loss. Results from this study of monkeys suggest that small hippocampi also reflect an inherited characteristic of the brain. Genetically informed clinical studies should assess whether inherited variation in hippocampal morphology contributes to excessive stress levels of cortisol through diminished neuroendocrine regulation.
View details for Web of Science ID 000172586000006
View details for PubMedID 11735843
Little is known about frustration-induced changes in stress physiology in humans and nonhuman primates. Here we assess in two experiments with squirrel monkeys plasma levels of pituitary-adrenal stress hormones in conditions designed to provoke frustrative nonreward. In the first experiment 18 prepubertal monkeys were trained to feed from one of eight sites, and then tested without food at any of the sites. These monkeys responded with significant increases in cortisol and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). In the second experiment 18 adult monkeys were trained to feed from one of eight sites, and then tested after food was moved to a different foraging site. Nine monkeys found food at the relocated site, discontinued foraging at the previously baited site, and responded with decreases in cortisol. The other nine monkeys failed to find the relocated site, initially increased their visits to the previously baited site, and responded with elevations in cortisol and ACTH. In keeping with comparable findings in rats, our observations indicate that frustrative nonreward elicits ACTH-stimulated secretion of cortisol in primates.
View details for Web of Science ID 000166100800016
View details for PubMedID 11239675
Corticosteroids have been implicated in hippocampal atrophy in patients with severe psychiatric disorders, but little is known about receptor expression for corticosteroids in human or nonhuman primate brain. Both the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) and mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) were surveyed in this study of squirrel monkey brain using in situ hybridization histochemistry. Regions of high GR mRNA levels included CA1 and CA2 of hippocampus, dentate gyrus, paraventricular hypothalamus, lateral geniculate, lateral>medial amygdala, and cerebellum. Western analysis confirmed that GR immunoreactivity in squirrel monkey brain tissue most likely reflects the alpha isoform. Regions of high MR mRNA levels included all hippocampal pyramidal cell fields, dentate gyrus granule cell layer, lateral septum, medial>lateral amygdala, and to a lesser extent, cerebellum. Low levels of MR were also expressed in caudate and putamen. Receptor expression for corticosteroids in deep brain structures and the hippocampal formation was similar to that previously reported in rodents, but GR and MR mRNA were expressed at higher levels in squirrel monkey cerebral cortex. GR expression was evident in all cortical layers, particularly the pyramidal cell-rich layers II/III and V. MR expression was restricted to the more superficial cortical layers, and was only moderately represented in layer V. Laminar patterns were apparent in all regions of cortex for GR expression in squirrel monkeys, but low MR mRNA levels were found in dorsomedial prefrontal cortex (PFC). Different subregional distributions and distinctive laminar patterns suggest specialized functions or coordinated interactions between GR and MR mediated functions in primate PFC.
View details for Web of Science ID 000167473400002
View details for PubMedID 11165305
Most studies of cortisol-induced cognitive impairments have focused on hippocampal-dependent memory. This study investigates a different aspect of cognition in a randomized placebo-controlled experiment with monkeys that were treated with cortisol according to a protocol that simulates a prolonged stress response. Young adult and older adult monkeys were assigned randomly to placebo or chronic treatment with cortisol in a 2 x 2 factorial design (n = 8 monkeys per condition). Inhibitory control of behavior was assessed with a test shown previously in primates to reflect prefrontal cortical dysfunction. Failure to inhibit a specific goal-directed response was evident more often in older adults. Treatment with cortisol increased this propensity in both older and young adult monkeys. Age-related differences in response inhibition were consistent across blocks of repeated test trials, but the treatment effects were clearly expressed only after prolonged exposure to cortisol. Aspects of performance that did not require inhibition were not altered by age or treatment with cortisol, which concurs with effects on response inhibition rather than nonspecific changes in behavior. These findings lend support to related reports that cortisol-induced disruptions in prefrontal dopamine neurotransmission may contribute to deficits in response inhibition and play a role in cognitive impairments associated with endogenous hypercortisolism in humans.
View details for Web of Science ID 000089753300043
View details for PubMedID 11027246
A nodule was identified within the right mammary gland of a 16-year-old male squirrel monkey (Saimiri sciureus). The mass was excised and diagnosed as a mammary adenocarcinoma. The monkey developed congestive heart failure 1.5 years later and was euthanatized. At necropsy, a subcutaneous mass was found in the right axillary region. Histologically, the mass was identified as a lymph node whose architecture was effaced by neoplastic cells resembling those of the mammary tumor. Metastasis to internal organs was not observed. This is the first reported case of a mammary tumor in a New World primate and the only known case of mammary cancer in a male nonhuman primate.
View details for Web of Science ID 000089871500025
View details for PubMedID 11055884
Variations in maternal care induce in neonatal rodents life-long changes in glucocorticoid feedback regulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis. This aspect of plasticity in neuroendocrine development has not been established in primates. We assessed, in young adult squirrel monkeys, postnatal rearing effects on cortisol-induced suppression of corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) stimulated secretion of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). Offspring of randomly bred monkeys were periodically removed from natal groups between 13 and 21 weeks of age. In two other postnatal rearing conditions, systematic differences in maternal availability were produced by manipulating the effort required of lactating mothers to successfully find food. All offspring were subsequently administered, 3-5 years later on two occasions, an intravenous ovine CRF injection preceded 60 min earlier by placebo or cortisol pretreatment. The difference between CRF-stimulated time-integrated secretion of ACTH following placebo vs cortisol pretreatment served as an index of glucocorticoid negative feedback. Difference scores were greatest in monkeys previously separated from natal groups. This finding was not attributable to significant rearing condition differences in plasma cortisol levels achieved following pretreatment with exogenous cortisol, nor plasma ACTH levels produced when the CRF injection was preceded by pretreatment with placebo. The results suggest that postnatal experiences altered glucocorticoid feedback in monkeys at least through early adulthood. This conclusion supports retrospective reports indicating that, for humans with major mood and anxiety disorders, systematic differences in glucocorticoid feedback may reflect neural mechanisms in development linking early life stress with psychopathology in adulthood.
View details for Web of Science ID 000088302600004
View details for PubMedID 10929083
Squirrel monkeys are among a diverse group of New World primates that demonstrate unusually high levels of circulating corticosteroids and glucocorticoid receptor (GR) insensitivity. Recent evidence suggests that overexpression of an immunophilin impairs dexamethasone binding to GR in the Bolivian squirrel monkey (Saimiri boliviensis). Here we describe the cloning, expression, and functional characterization of GR from the closely related Guyanese squirrel monkey (S. sciureus). The cloned Guyanese squirrel monkey GR (gsmGR) cDNA closely resembles human GR (hGR) cDNA, and yields a high affinity dexamethasone binding receptor when expressed in COS-1 cells. Transactivation analysis of hGR and gsmGR expressed in CV-1 cells and cultured squirrel monkey kidney (SMK) cells indicates that: (1) SMK cells elaborate a functional high activity GR from human GR cDNA; (2) gsmGR is an order of magnitude less efficient than hGR at transactivation in CV-1 and SMK cells; and (3) maximal transactivation by gsmGR is attenuated in both cell lines. Glucocorticoid resistance in S. sciureus is at least partly attributable to a naturally occurring mutation in the GR gene that results in impaired GR transactivation.
View details for Web of Science ID 000086821400003
View details for PubMedID 10775802
A 17-year-old, 1-kg, colony-housed, male squirrel monkey (Samiri sciureus) developed clinical signs of congestive heart failure. The monkey presented with lethargy, increased heart and respiratory rates, and mild abdominal distention. The clinical history, laboratory analysis, and radiographic findings were consistent with heart failure due to dilative cardiomyopathy. Gross and microscopic examination of the heart confirmed a dilative cardiomyopathy. This is the first report describing congestive heart failure caused by dilative cardiomyopathy in a squirrel monkey. Spontaneous dilative cardiomyopathy may be infrequently observed in the squirrel monkeys because they are not routinely housed in the research environment during their advancing years.
View details for Web of Science ID 000087265900006
View details for PubMedID 10870674
Most nonhuman primate research on risk factors underlying vulnerability to stress has focused on early psychosocial experiences in various species of macaques. To test for genetic and experiential effects on emotional vulnerability in randomly bred squirrel monkeys, here we combined a paternal half-sibling analysis with three postnatal rearing protocols that altered aspects of maternal availability. In one condition offspring were periodically removed from natal groups, whereas differences in maternal availability were produced in two other conditions by manipulating the effort required of lactating mothers to successfully locate food. After completion of these protocols at 21 weeks of age, social affinities, maternal separation induced peep-calls, and plasma levels of cortisol were assessed from 29 to 37 weeks of age. Significant postnatal rearing effects and the lowest heritabilities were detected in peak elevations of cortisol measured 1 day after the removal of mothers from otherwise undisturbed groups. Individual differences in cortisol 3-7 days later revealed negligible postnatal rearing effects and the highest heritabilities (h(2) approximately. 70), as offspring sired by certain fathers failed to return to the preseparation level found in undisturbed natal groups. Paternal half-siblings that responded with long lasting increases in cortisol spent more time near their mother in undisturbed groups and exhibited long-lasting increases in separation induced peep-calls. These findings concur with human twin studies that suggest genetic and experiential factors contribute to individual differences in vulnerability to emotional distress.
View details for Web of Science ID 000084740500007
View details for PubMedID 10603290
When separated from groups, squirrel monkeys respond with significant increases in plasma cortisol and adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). While cortisol remains elevated above pre-separation levels, significant reductions occur in ACTH. Monkeys that respond with greater increases in cortisol subsequently exhibit greater reductions in ACTH, which suggests that reductions in ACTH are mediated by corticosteroid feedback. Monkeys that respond with greater increases in cortisol also tend to exhibit greater cerebrospinal fluid levels of the dopamine metabolite HVA, but not the norepinephrine metabolite MHPG, or corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF). Attenuation of corticosteroid feedback with metyrapone results in significant increases in circulating ACTH, and in older monkeys increases plasma HVA. Similar findings in humans have been reported in clinical studies of hypercortisolism and major depression.
View details for Web of Science ID 000078796300001
View details for PubMedID 10101722
Anxiety disorders such as social phobia (SP) often have their onset during adolescence and frequently precede the onset of major depression. Dysregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is well-documented in major depression. Consequently, there is considerable interest in HPA function in anxiety disorders. We examined salivary cortisol levels in 27 SP adolescent girls and 21 matched controls during normal daily activities, and immediately before and after a modified Trier Social Stress Test (TSST). Both SP subjects and controls showed significant elevations in cortisol levels prior to the TSST, and prior to attending school. These results suggest that salivary cortisol is a sensitive measure of anticipatory anxiety, but we failed to find significant differences between SP subjects and controls.
View details for Web of Science ID 000085271400004
View details for PubMedID 10499186
Mother squirrel monkeys stop carrying infants at earlier ages in high-demand (HD) conditions where food is difficult to find relative to low-demand (LD) conditions. To characterize these transitions in psychosocial development, from 10- to 21-weeks postpartum we collected measures of behavior, adrenocortical activity, and social transactions coded for initiator (mother or infant), goal (make-contact or break-contact), and outcome (success or failure). Make-contact attempts were most often initiated by HD infants, but mothers often opposed these attempts and less than 50% were successful. Break-contact attempts were most often initiated by LD infants, but mothers often opposed these attempts and fewer LD than HD infant break-contact attempts were successful. Plasma levels of cortisol were significantly higher in HD than LD mothers, but differences in adrenocortical activity were less consistent in their infants. HD and LD infants also spent similar amounts of time nursing on their mothers and feeding on solid foods. By rescheduling some transitions in development (carry-->self-transport), and not others (nursing-->self-feeding), mothers may have partially protected infants from the immediate impact of an otherwise stressful foraging task.
View details for Web of Science ID 000073477300003
View details for PubMedID 9589217
View details for Web of Science ID 000078143600005
Social separations can induce long-lasting increases in cortisol, whereas companionship can result in social buffering. Preliminary evidence from studies of squirrel monkeys suggests that social separation-induced hypersecretion of cortisol is initially driven by hypersecretion of ACTH. From 1-21 days postseparation, however, cortisol remains elevated above pre-separation controls, while ACTH levels are consistently reduced. Hypercortisolism is maintained despite reductions in ACTH, because adrenal responsiveness to ACTH is enhanced. Low circulating ACTH, in turn, is maintained by robust feedback mechanisms that apparently inhibit biosynthesis or release of pituitary ACTH. These findings are consistent with neuroendocrine interactions known or hypothesized to occur during major depressive disorders in humans and raise unique possibilities for comparative research in human and nonhuman primates.
View details for Web of Science ID A1997BJ17S00013
View details for PubMedID 9071353
Squirrel monkeys show unusually prolonged elevations in plasma cortisol when separated from like-sex social companions. To determine whether this hypersecretion of cortisol reflects a deficiency in feedback mechanisms that normally inhibit the prolonged activation of the pituitary-adrenal axis, we simultaneously measured plasma cortisol and corticotropin (ACTH) in 30 juvenile monkeys housed in established groups, individual cages, and newly formed groups. As found in recent longitudinal studies of adults, when juveniles were living without companions, mean cortisol titers were consistently higher than those observed when the same juveniles were living in like-sex social groups. When cortisol was elevated, however, ACTH titers were significantly and chronically reduced. These results suggest that elevated cortisol does inhibit ACTH synthesis or release, and that hypercortisolism in squirrel monkeys living without companions is not a consequence of chronic elevations in ACTH. Similar peculiarities in pituitary-adrenal activity are evident in a number of affective disorders in human beings.
View details for Web of Science ID A1994NA88000003
View details for PubMedID 8202576
Female agonism against males and male interventions in social transactions between the sexes are 2 explanations for the low rates of social engagement observed between male and female squirrel monkeys (Saimiri sciureus). These possibilities were evaluated by comparing the frequency, structure, and content of transactions between the sexes in 3 experimental social units: male-female pairs, single-male-multifemale groups, and multimale-multifemale groups. Affiliative transactions between the sexes occurred 3-5 times less often in multimale-multifemale groups than in male-female pairs and in single-male-multifemale groups. Intermale agonism in the multimale-multifemale groups often coincided with ongoing transactions between the sexes, whereas female agonism against males was rather uncommon in all social units. The results failed to support the female agonism hypothesis and indicate a need for more detailed studies of intermale social dynamics.
View details for Web of Science ID A1992JY56500001
View details for PubMedID 1451415
View details for Web of Science ID 000236767301205
View details for Web of Science ID 000233442100165